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Saturday 3 December 2016

Pay commission could be used to stop garda action

Cormac McQuinn and Jane O'Faherty

Published 24/10/2016 | 02:30

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald: committed to negotiation. Photo: Tom Burke
Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald: committed to negotiation. Photo: Tom Burke

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has suggested that the establishment of the Public Sector Pay Commission could be accelerated to stop gardaí from striking next month.

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Four days of industrial action have been announced by the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) and the Garda Representative Association (GRA) in November.

Ms Fitzgerald said every option is now being considered to halt plans for industrial action by members of the force.

"All possibilities are being considered that will lead to an outcome that prevents the gardaí from withdrawing their services," the Tánaiste told RTÉ's 'The Week in Politics'.

The Tánaiste added that she was committed to negotiations to deal with the issues raised by gardaí.

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She also said the Public Sector Pay Commission provided a pathway "where the gardaí would have an absolutely equal role and I have already committed to their involvement with the Workplace Relations Commission."

Ms Fitzgerald stressed that the Government aims to avoid a situation where Ireland's airports would be forced to close by strike action by gardaí.

"There is a duty of care to probationary gardaí and trainee gardaí as well," she continued.

Responding on the same programme, Fianna Fáil TD Jim O'Callaghan accused the Government and the Tánaiste of not being aware "of the significance of what's going to happen next month".

"We are going to have 12,500 of An Garda Síochána, rank and file members going on strike," he said.

"What we are going to be left with is 300 members of the force, from Superintendent and Chief Superintendent upwards, who are seeking to rely upon reservists and probationary guards, neither of whom have the power to arrest," he added.

Separately, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin expressed concern over contingency plans to deal with the withdrawal of services next month.

"Obviously I don't believe strike action should take place," he said.

"I think security and needs of society are paramount.

"The negotiations and talks that are under way will have to result in a resolution of the issues but contingency planning should continue side-by-side with that."

Irish Independent

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